Synopsis: The nations of Midland and Chuda have been at war for a hundred years. On the side of Midland is the mercenary leader Griffith and his Band of the Hawk. A charismatic leader with an uncompromising dream, he is followed and loved by his men... including a warrior named Gatts. Berserk is the story of the Hundred Years War and the fate of Griffith's dream as seen through Gatts' eyes.
Review: Berserk is best defined as a dark fantasy. The setting is medieval (knights, crossbows, cannons, etc.) with supernatural elements thrown in during the later parts. It's not a very happy story. Nothing good lasts in this series, but getting there is an experience in itself. The first thing anyone watching this should know is: Do not judge Berserk by the first episode! It will make very little sense initially, and won't seem to be going anywhere... but that's because it's actually the last episode of the series. Everything that comes after are flashbacks. Trust me, after seeing it in its entirety, the first episode will make perfect sense and you will agree: Berserk is cool.
The plot, as I have mentioned earlier, is dark. There are good guys and bad guys. The bad guys are evil, indulging in standard evil vices (homosexuality, pedophilia, casual murder, and torture). The good guys (for most part) are decent, but people who aren't directly in the good guys' group usually have something evil about them. There are no saints in this series. The pacing is good, with only a few points where things slow down (usually more tender moments with Griffith), but that is quickly made up for with a new campaign or battle. Seeing as this is basically a war story that focuses on a mercenary band, a big chunk of the series is devoted to one battle after another. This does not detract from the story, however. The real plot doesn't unfold until after a number of episodes. When it does come to its conclusion, the impact is tremendous... with a fittingly dark aspect.
The artwork is very good for most of the series, but there are a few places where you can tell they had someone do a quick fill-in job. This makes a few animation sequences seem kind of awkward. There are also quite a few panning shots of still scenes, and scenes that pause and turn into a painted version of the frozen picture. The painted versions don't look that great, but they choose good moments to do it and an appropriate effect is achieved. For most part, though, I was so wrapped up in the story I didn't really notice the visual flaws. Berserk is recommended for people who like dark-themed anime with lots of violence and heavy emotional impact.
Miscellanies: I watched the first episode and wasn't that interested... then I watched the second and third and couldn't stop.